Pediatric hypertension linked to troubling MRI changes



– There’s another reason to worry about hypertension in children: cognitive decline later in life.

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In a pilot study, Marc Lande, MD, a professor of pediatric nephrology at the University of Rochester (N.Y.), and his colleagues found evidence of impaired white matter integrity on MRI in a handful of hypertensive children, similar to what’s found in adults with cognitive impairment from hypertension.

The work is ongoing, but it helps explain the subtle deficits on cognitive testing that have been previously demonstrated in children with hypertension.

“The fact that we are finding anything at this very early stage of disease is striking and somewhat bothersome. The hope is that, by improving blood pressure in children, you can improve subsequent cognition and maybe even delay the onset of dementia further down the road,” Dr. Lande said.

For now, the findings underscore the need to diagnose and manage hypertension in children, but there might be additional treatment implications in the future, especially if blood pressure targets are found that ameliorate the problem.

Dr. Lande explained the issues and the emerging evidence in a video interview at the joint scientific sessions of the American Heart Association Council on Hypertension, AHA Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease, and American Society of Hypertension.

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